There has been a recent increase in the so-called conflict tourists. This is where individuals, usually young Muslim men, go to a foreign country to take part in a local conflict. There has been a rise in westerners going to the middle east to fight a war. The recent events in Iraq have prompted others to go there. This follows an increased number of individuals going to Syria to fight in the “civil war” there. How this relatively new phenomenon will play out is anyone’s guess.
OpenStreetMap UK Completeness: Just Shy of 98%
On the 18 June the street name completeness figure given by ITO! World was 97.99%. There are still around 17,700 roads to be fixed although there are just over 15,000 that are classed as major omissions. This is an amazing achievement for the open source project where volunteers have mapped the UK. The time taken to get this far may have been slower than some would have liked but there has been great progress. See the web site for more details by UK district: http://www.itoworld.com/product/data/osm_analysis/main. There are only 16 districts (out of 408) that now have less than 95% coverage, and those are just below that figure.
Harley Davidson has a new electric bike that has been named “Project LiveWire“. It is a proof of concept bike that can travel 130 miles.
Also in the news is the electric car that will travel for 1000 miles. Phinergy and Alcoa have announced the development of an aluminium-air battery that could give an electric car a potential range of 1,000 miles (1,609 km). The battery system uses energy released through the reaction of aluminium and water with oxygen in order to generate electricity, using a silver-based catalyst. There is also a unique structure to allow oxygen into the cell while refusing entry to carbon dioxide CO2 molecules. The system would require a top of water every few hundred miles. Details can be found on this web site.
The European Space Agency (ESA) has released high-resolution images, from ESA’s three-satellite Swarm constellation, that reveal the most recent changes in the magnetic field that protects the Earth. The Swarm satellites show that the magnetic field is changing: in just six months there have been observed changes. The general trend is that the magnetic field is weakening, with the a decline over the Western Hemisphere. In other areas such, as the southern Indian Ocean, the magnetic field has strengthened since January. The magnetic north pole is shifting towards Siberia. The new satellites give much better resolution, and allow the capability to map detailed features of the magnetic field.
Refugee Totals Rise
Linked to the above conflict tourism story, there are now above 50 million people who are classed as refugees: higher than the number affected by the second world war. The totals have been fuelled by conflicts in the Middle East and Africa.
See the UN Refugee Agency’s report here: http://www.unhcr.org/53a155bc6.html. An additional 6 million refugees were forcibly displaced in 2013 than 2012. This massive increase was driven mainly by the war in Syria, which at the end of last year had forced 2.5 million people into becoming refugees and made 6.5 million internally displaced. Major new displacement was also seen in Africa – notably in Central African Republic and South Sudan.